Vizio Co-Start (VAP430) Google TV Stream Player

First announced at CES 2012, the Vizio VAP430 stream player featuring Google TV 2.0 has become available for pre-order for $99 last week.

VAP430 Media StreamerHere are the specs provided on Vizio website:

  • Video
    • Resolution Supported – 720p, 1080i, 1080p
    • 3D Support – Yes
    • Video Playback – H.264, MP4, MKV
  • Audio
    • Music Playback – MP3, AAC, WMA
    • Audio Features – Up to 5.1 surround sound pass-through
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi – 802.11 n/g/b
    • Bluetooth
    • Ethernet – 10/100 Mbps
  • Connections
    • HDMI In – Connection to Cable or Satellite Box
    • HDMI Out –  Connection to TV
    • One USB 2.0 Host port
  • Remote control – Built-In IR Blaster, Bluetooth, Touchpad and Keyboard
  • Dimension – 10.67 x 4.06 x 10.67 cm
  • Weight – 300 grams

They did not provide information about the processor, RAM and flash used, but I would guess it’s based on Marvell Google TV Reference Platform which is powered by ARMADA 1500 HD Secure Media Processor (Dual Core ARMv7 processor @ 1.2 GHz) and comes with 1GB RAM and at least 4GB flash. If that’s the case, they clearly understated the video containers and codecs supported by the device. (Edit: See comment section for discussion about this issue).

The remote looks pretty awesome with a qwerty keyboard, a TouchPad and Bluetooth, and you can also download Google TV Remote App to use your smartphone or tablet as a remote control.

On the software side, Google TV comes with Chrome for Android by default, and lots of usual application such as Google Play, YouTube… are pre-installed on the device together with  Onlive, an on-demand video game platform. You can watch ViZio Co-Star video commercial below to have a look at the user interface and what can be done with the device.

At $99 this is a very competitive proposal, as it includes an Android set-top box (possibly with a dual core processor) and a dual-sided Bluetooth Remote. I would argue that it’s even impossible to get a similarly priced package from websites selling cheap Chinese electronics on the Internet. The only downsides are that it’s only available in the US for now, and it became so popular (announced 4 days ago) that it sold out within 24 hours. Pre-orders will ship on August 14, and it’s not possible to pre-order anymore, at least for a little while.

You can find more information on Vizio Co-Star page.

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4 Replies to “Vizio Co-Start (VAP430) Google TV Stream Player”

  1. Regarding your comment “If that’s the case, they clearly understated the video containers and codecs supported by the device”: This is most likely a licensing cost issue. The quad-core Exynos board available for $129 has the same limitations. They probably only included the bare-bones codecs necessary to support OnLive, Netflix, and their other streaming video fromats – all of which use h.264 only. I don’t think they paid for AC3/DTS licensing either since it only mentions bitstreaming 5.1, not decoding. It remains to be seen whether this device can be hacked to add additional codecs but I doubt it since that typically requires new microcode for the “secure” media processor. I think if you want more codecs you need to pay much more for the Sony GoogleTV2 box. Without hacking, this device will be very limited since GoogleTV does not run native mode Android applications compiled with NDK such as media players, advanced games, etc.

  2. @ Mark
    Hmm yes I completely forgot about those licensing issues, and just look at Marvell Armada 1500 block diagram and codecs supported in the “VMeta Video” block. I still think they did not include all codecs in the specs. e.g. VP8 (WebM) has a free license as I understand it. You’re right, there is no NDK support so other media players cannot be installed, which means it’s possible only MP4 & MKV containers will be supported, but that would make a poor media player.

    Many people have complained about the lack of NDK, and this is a feature request, so there’s still hope.

  3. The GTV only has access to GTV play store no Android tablet/phone apps, there is an existing GTV third party media player called GTVBox available via GTV Play store however it can only use whats supported by the original box, maybe it exposes support for a few other containers but no codecs.

    XBMC would be the killer app for the GoogleTV, they’d be crazy for not supporting it.

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